2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Colts' defensive plan finally taking shape

By MICHAEL MAROT - AP Sports Writer
    2014-08-19 16:24

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Coach Chuck Pagano spent the past two seasons changing the Colts' defensive philosophy.

He wanted his players to be physical and aggressive. He wanted them to play with passion. He expected results, and he wasn't going to let anything deter this transformation.

Now, finally, it looks as if Indianapolis may be on the verge of a defensive breakthrough.

''I think we're better probably right now today than we've been at any point. We've been consistent. Again, it's so early, we have a long way to go,'' Pagano said Tuesday. ''We all had a picture when we got here of what we wanted to be and what it should look like. We're getting closer.''

In about 2 1/2 quarters, the Colts have allowed just 91 total yards and no touchdowns.

Indy (0-2) has figured out how to pressure quarterbacks despite playing without reigning NFL sacks champion Robert Mathis, who will miss the first four games of the regular season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. They held two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning to just one completion for 6 yards on Saturday and have swarmed the run.

While the doubters rightfully point out the measuring stick so far has been two preseason games against teams that aren't exactly offensive juggernauts, Mathis, the longest-tenured Colts defender, likes what he's seen.

''I feel like things are taking shape,'' he said. ''The guessing is over and we're done thinking. We can play fast now, everybody is playing fast.''

Indy could face its toughest test yet Saturday - if Drew Brees plays for the high-powered Saints.

But there's no doubt the Colts are improving.

When Pagano arrived in 2012, he inherited a defense that had allowed 430 points, the fourth-most in franchise history, and had long been castigated as the reason Indy didn't win more Super Bowls.

So he changed the script.

Instead of building a contender around a potent offense and a defense designed to protect leads, the former Ravens defensive coordinator scrapped Indy's traditional 4-3 front in favor of a more aggressive 3-4 and moved bookend pass rushers Mathis and Dwight Freeney to linebacker. While Mathis flourished in his new spot, Freeney never quite looked comfortable and was let go after the 2012 season.

General manager Ryan Grigson then scoured the free-agent market for reasonably priced players who were better fits in Pagano's system.

He came up with three starters - cornerback Greg Toler, safety LaRon Landry and linebacker Erik Walden - and added two more starters this offseason when he signed defensive lineman Arthur Jones and linebacker D'Qwell Jackson.

All the new faces have given the Colts a new personality.

''We're building our monster here, and we're going to have some swag this season,'' said Jones, who won a Super Bowl with Baltimore.

With two preseason games to go, the Colts still have something to prove, even to themselves.

First, they must continue playing this way.

Plus, they still have some holes to plug - most notably who will start at safety with Landry.

Grigson said Tuesday that Delano Howell, the front-runner in a four-man battle for the job, is consulting more doctors about an injured neck that has kept him out of practice for nearly two weeks. Howell also missed the final 10 games last season with a neck injury.

A prolonged absence would give NFL veterans Mike Adams, Colt Anderson and Sergio Brown a chance to win the job.

Grigson said he hopes to have more information before Saturday's nationally televised game.

''He's going through a whole entire process of seeing multiple people so he can formulate that opinion with his wife and his agent and himself and us and Chuck and all of us, and make the decision that's best for Delano,'' Grigson said. ''Hopefully, he's seeing another specialist so he can pinpoint what the problem is exactly and hopefully he's back out there playing for us soon.''

But with or without Howell, this year's defense is having a lot more fun.

''I've been here when we were treated like stepchildren,'' Mathis said. ''So I'm just enjoying every minute of it.''

---

AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

DeMarco MurrayOct 25 08:28p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray worked out with TE Jason Witten before the team's official offseason program, and he credits the veteran tight end with his increased stamina and [ More ]

Ryan ClarkOct 25 06:42p

Washington Redskins DE Chris Baker (thigh), OT Tyler Polumbus (knee), LB Perry Riley (knee) and OT Trent Williams (knee) practiced Saturday, Oct. 25, and are probable for Week 8. [ More ]

Edwin BakerOct 25 06:22p

The New Orleans Saints released TE Tom Crabtree Saturday, Oct. 25. RB Edwin Baker was promoted to the 53-man roster in his place.

Tom CrabtreeOct 25 06:12p

The New Orleans Saints released TE Tom Crabtree Saturday, Oct. 25.

Jerel WorthyOct 25 06:12p

The Kansas City Chiefs re-signed DE Jerel Worthy to the practice squad Saturday, Oct. 25.

LaMarr WoodleyOct 25 05:02p

Oakland Raiders LB LaMarr Woodley (biceps) and FS Usama Young (knee) were placed on Reserve/Injured Saturday, Oct. 25. CB D.J. Hayden (foot) was activated from the Physically Unable to [ More ]

Derrick ColemanOct 25 04:32p

Seattle Seahawks FS Derrick Coleman (foot) was placed on Reserve/Injured Saturday, Oct. 25. The team signed WR Phil Bates to the 53-man roster.

Damian WilliamsOct 25 04:32p

Miami Dolphins DE Dion Jordan was activated to the 53-man roster Saturday, Oct. 25, after serving his suspension. WR Damian Williams was waived to make room for him.

Jack CrawfordOct 25 04:32p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (thigh), FS Jakar Hamilton (personal), OT Jermey Parnell (chest) and DE Anthony Spencer (knee, foot) practiced Saturday, Oct. 25, and are probable for Week [ More ]

Doug FreeOct 25 03:52p

Dallas Cowboys OG Doug Free (foot) could return next week against the Arizona Cardinals. Head coach Jason Garrett said he hopes Free will be able to practice net week.

Ryan TaylorOct 25 03:02p

The Baltimore Ravens waived TE Ryan Taylor and promoted TE Phillip Supernaw from their practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 25.

Chandler JonesOct 25 02:12p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) could be done for the season with a hip injury he suffered in Week 7. Jones will reportedly miss at least six weeks.

Chris CookOct 25 01:22p

The San Francisco 49ers placed CB Chris Cook (hamstring) and C Daniel Kilgore (leg) on Reserve/Injured and signed S Ray Ventrone to a one-year deal Saturday, Oct. 25.

Gerell RobinsonOct 25 01:12p

The Cleveland Browns activated OL Nick McDonald and waived TE Gerell Robinson Saturday, Oct. 25.

Gerald McCoyOct 25 01:02p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy has agreed to terms with the team on a seven-year contract extension worth close to $100 million.

Marcus EasleyOct 25 12:42p

Buffalo Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee) will work out before the team's Week 8 game to see if he will be able to play, according to head coach Doug [ More ]

Jason TrusnikOct 25 12:42p

Miami Dolphins LB Jason Trusnik could start at middle linebacker in Week 8 if LB Koa Misi (ankle) is not able to play.

Tavarres KingOct 25 12:22p

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed practice squad CB Peyton Thompson to their active roster Saturday, Oct. 25. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived WR Tavarres King.

Calais CampbellOct 25 12:22p

Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (knee) likely will be a game-time decision for Week 8, according to head coach Bruce Arians. Campbell said his knee felt good during practice and hopes to play.

A.J. GreenOct 25 12:12p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) is not expected to play in Week 8, because he has ligament damage under his toe. The team wants to be careful with [ More ]

Shonn GreeneOct 25 12:02p

Tennessee Titans RB Shonn Greene was arrested Friday, Oct. 24, and charged with a handicap parking violation, driving on a revoked/suspended license, reckless driving and resisting stop/halt/frisk.

Sean SpenceOct 25 11:32a

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Ryan Shazier (knee) should be able to play in Week 8, but it is not known if he will start at inside linebacker. Shazier and LB [ More ]

Aqib TalibOct 25 05:22a

Denver Broncos CB Tony Carter has drawn interest on the trade market prior to the Oct. 28 deadline. CBs Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby have taken away some playing [ More ]

Alan BranchOct 25 05:12a

Free-agent DL Alan Branch (Bills) was spotted in the New England Patriots' locker room but still has not signed his contract with the team. An additional report by Mike [ More ]

Jason KelceOct 25 12:42a

Philadelphia Eagles C Jason Kelce (hernia) is listed as questionable for the Week 8 game against the Arizona Cardinals, but he is unlikely to play. He had sports hernia [ More ]

Cullen JenkinsOct 25 12:42a

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) is expected to miss at least a few weeks, so DEs Robert Ayers and Mathias Kiwanuka could be asked to play interior [ More ]

Jon BeasonOct 25 12:42a

New York Giants LB Devon Kennard might see more playing time with LB Jon Beason (toe) injured and possibly sidelined a while.

Emmanuel AchoOct 25 12:32a

Philadelphia Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks (calf) might be able to return for the Week 8 game against the Arizona Cardinals. If not, LBs Emmanuel Acho and Casey Matthews would [ More ]

Luke WillsonOct 24 10:44p

Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (groin) will play in the team's Week 8 game, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Crockett GillmoreOct 24 10:32p

Baltimore Ravens rookie TE Crockett Gillmore will receive the start at tight end in Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Ravens appear to have plenty of confidence [ More ]

Golden TateOct 24 10:12p

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate will be facing the league's 29th ranked pass defense in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Steve JohnsonOct 24 10:08p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson has played only 20 percent of the snaps in the last month, but he's been the team's most effective receiver in that time. [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group